Stratford is for (Beer) Lovers
Stratford may have been a hidden gem for my wife and I, but many people from Ontario and all across Canada know and love this beautiful town. If you aren’t familiar with this well-known tourist destination in Southwestern Ontario, it’s famous for their Stratford Festival. This annual festival features performances of Shakespearean plays and other productions from May until October. Outside of the theatres you'll find a plethora of boutique shops, bistros, bakeries, coffee bars, and three breweries!
We were delighted when Nicole from Heritage Hops offered us an incredible night away so close to home. Our Stratford getaway included beers and snacks at Heritage Hops Brewing, dinner at Rockwell Lounge, accommodations at the Daly House Guest Suites with lunch at The Hub and paddle boating on the Avon River. Allow us to show you how great of a time we had exploring Stratford Ontario.
21 Market Place, Stratford ON.
The first stop of any great getaway is always a brewery…at least it is for us. After a quick drive from south London we arrived at Heritage Hops Brewing Co. This awesome brewery is located in the heart of Stratford with views of the European styled city hall and bustling market square. Along with its next door neighbor the Hub, Heritage Hops offers a fantastic spot to sip a pint on the patio, grab a bite and watch life go by in the scenic tourist town. The brewery is housed in the original home of the Stratford Herald Newspaper dating back to 1890, you can read more about the brewery’s history in our full blog post here.
We started with flights of four of their core brews including Abandoned at the Alter Raspberry Sour, It’s Noon Somewhere Light Lager, 21 Haze IPA and Perth County Conspiracy APA. I’m not sure what’s been going on in Perth County, but it's no secret that I loved their APA, Mrs. McGoo's favourite was their popular raspberry sour. We were also served a delicious charcuterie board with cured meats, cheeses and pickled vegetables from the Hub Butchery. Brewery sales rep and all around awesome guy Nick lead us through the beer tasting and was a great host to us during our stay. In addition to the excellent beer, they offer a menu of house made pub favourites with daily specials, I highly recommend the fish and chips. We were finally able to meet Heritage Hops Business Manager Nicole, who is making their social media really fun! check it out... IG: @heritagehopsbrewco, Tiktok: heritagehopsbrew
Of course we couldn’t just have a flight, we got a couple full pours and hit the patio. And for dessert I had the small batch dark lager with vanilla and cocoa. I may have had 4 desserts that afternoon. We enjoyed every last second and ray of sunshine we could on their patio. Soon it was time to get settled into our room at the nearby Daly House Guest Suites and get ready dinner at Rockwell Lounge.
This was our third visit to Heritage Hops and it continues to be a place so comfortable and welcoming that we always have a hard time leaving. With the great staff, food and drinks… it’s a brewery that I always recommend to friends and readers.
38 Albert St. Stratford On. As parents we don’t get out much. So we were excited to enjoy a quiet dinner and cocktails without having to constantly tell someone to eat their broccoli and stop making farting noises at the table. We made the quick 10 minute walk from our Daly House accommodation to the new Rockwell Lounge on Albert St.
The upscale lounge opened in early June and is helmed by head chef Jack Beers, sous chef Djordje Blagojevic and mixologist Alex Archer. Entering down a few steps into the lower level of the building you’ll find a modern yet comfortable lounge. The space features kitchen views with an open flame oven that acts like focal point fireplace.
We were seated in one of their comfortable leather booths where we met our server Jacob, who provided the perfect level of service throughout. I started with a Delirium Tremens golden ale and my wife ordered the ‘The Passenger’ made with Tromba Tequila, mescal, green chartreuse, lime, hibiscus and rosehip syrup. One sip of that cocktail immediately took us back to our favorite Mexican vacation.
Our booth neighbour recommended the Tuna Ceviche and it was a fantastic suggestion. Fresh tuna with avocado, walnuts, cilantro, radish and pickled chilis. The fresh chilled tuna, crunch of the colourful radish and earthiness of the walnut worked so well together for a light start to our dinner.
While we awaited our main, we ordered another round of cocktails. As a bourbon lover, I ordered the La Emilia which is a Cherrywood smoked play on a classic Boulevardier. Mrs. McGoo ordered the Notorious F.I.G. which turned out to be the star cocktail of the night with the image of Biggie Smalls etched on top.
For our main, we decided to share the Local Striploin with roasted bone marrow, confit potatoes, roasted carrots and port jus. The striploin was cooked a perfect medium rare, well rested and full of flavour. The confit potatoes were slightly sweet, crispy and delicious.
For desert we really enjoyed the cheesecake with raspberry mousse and compote, I’m a sucker for anything raspberry. The compote brought back such great memories of my grandmother’s homemade raspberry jam.
Truthfully I can be hard to impress when it comes to food and cocktails, but our experience at Rockwell Lounge was outstanding. This is just the kind of place we like, upscale menu and craft cocktails without with the white linens and stuffy atmosphere. Every drink and every dish was exceptional and we both agreed this is our new favorite restaurant. We are still talking about our dinner and can’t wait to return. Check out their Instagram @rockwellstratford... it’ll make you hungry!
Daly House Guest Suites
66 Daly Ave. Stratford, On.
Our accommodations for the evening was at the nearby Daly House Guest Suites. A redesigned century home that features four suites each with its own full bath. Believe it or not, until now I had never stayed in an Airbnb or even a bed and breakfast, so I was looking forward the experience of a guest house.
We found the suite to be spacious, quiet and had all the amenities of a nice hotel room plus access to the main floor fridge, microwave, kettle and coffee maker. The location of the Daly House is the key feature. When we arrived in Stratford we parked the car at the guest house for the night and we able to walk everywhere within 10 minutes. Overall a nice stay and I wouldn’t hesitate to lay my head there again. Click the > to see more.
30 York St. Stratford, On.
The Avon River meanders through downtown Stratford and is lined with scenic parks and walking paths. The Avon Boathouse is steps from downtown and offers guided boat tours of the river or you can do it yourself with paddle boat, canoe and kayak rentals. If that’s not your thing, you can always enjoy a bite and ice cream on their shaded riverside patio.
We set sail on a paddle boat and had a relaxing hour long cruise down the Avon. We were accompanied on our tour by ducks, a pair of swans and even a huge snapping turtle who surfaced to say hello…or to tell us to get out of it’s river. I have no idea the temperament of a snapping turtle. Grumpy turtle or not, I would love to bring my son along on the next adventure.
The Hub Pub & Patio
31 Market Pl. Stratford, On.
After paddling into port, we regained our land legs and were hungry for lunch. A quick stroll from the Avon Boathouse found us back in the Market Square at The Hub. This beer hall, pub and patio is ginormous! Two expansive floors of inside seating and an rooftop patio with views of downtown. It was a beautiful day so we opted for the roof top patio and found a nice corner nook to lounge for drinks.
Our server Donna was the best! Super friendly, attentive and provided some great recommendations. We started with a Heritage Hops Perth County Conspiracy Pale Ale and a frozen margarita. The Hub has a great tap list of Heritage Hops brews and other Ontario breweries such as Collective Arts and Flying Monkey’s.
For lunch we ordered the perch tacos and the BBQ Brisket platter. The portions here are huge with my platter coming with two thick slabs of brisket, fries and a soup bowl full of baked beans. The tacos were fresh and crispy and the brisket was tender and smoked to perfection. You won't leave The Hub hungry or thirsty!
The blog has made us realize we can have a great weekend getaway without flight delays, border crossings or highway traffic. Thanks again to Heritage Hops, Rockwell Lounge, Daly House, The Hub and Avon Boathouse for hosting us and providing an wonderful night away. Stratford is a beautiful and lively place, it’s awesome to have found a new love for a place so close to home.
Stay positive and drink good beer